Any attempt to pin down this exact moment, that exact image exactly what I feel and need to say needs words that are not born yet, metaphors for minds not yet formed, such is exactitude. Yet that is what poets attempt to do. We stand at the edge of the crowd, listening to the music hearing the echoes of other times and places, and ask a shadow to dance.
Last spring the laurel hedge by my window was empty
No chirruping, calling, no rustling of glossy leaves
No fledglings edging off the nest onto twigs and then the adjacent fence
No wobbling and frantic flapping as parents patiently cajole
No triumphant flights to the Rose bushes
Only to tumble to the grass
As the chosen twig was too thin
I didn’t see a blackbird in my garden all summer
An oven of a season, hot, glaring, unseasonal in England
I mourn the fathers melodies, sung full voiced to advent dawn
The mother following me, chatting as she pirated fallen chicken feed
All those babies, remember the funeral my small sons conducted
For a tiny one found dead mid-lawn
We did not ask for this
we cannot control what we must
we can only rise to the times
and do what we see as right.
There is no one there to listen
no parent in the sky
we are the author of our souls
the believer in our faith
children of the universe.
Intellect and compassion?
Built solely from an interplay of atomic particles
our strange stay here on Earth
the true miracle of chance and physics
Written for Today’s National Poetry Day, which this year has the theme of Freedom.
As usual, when given a prompt or theme, my mind heads off slightly askew. This poem tells some of the story of my Maltese Grandfather. He came to Britain as a stowaway with nothing, found welcome and work. We need to remember how many of us are descended from people like him — and to remember to allow others similar freedoms.